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Office Hours: Handling Criticism and Rejection

This week, I’ve got a story for you about a talk I gave at the She Leads Conference. I was prepping for my talk and requested permission to share another entrepreneur's story in my presentation — and her response threw me for a loop. I’m absolutely certain you will experience this at some point, and I'm happy to share with you how I dealt with the rejection.

You know that showing up authentically is one of the most valuable things you can do, but what happens when somebody straight up rejects you, and you have no idea why? Most of the time, their problem isn't even about you or your business, and it's up to you to keep it moving. I’m excited to show you how to keep your head up when the tough gets going.

Join me on this week’s Office Hours to learn how to deal with criticism and develop a thicker skin. I’m also sharing why remaining warm and welcoming to others, even if not everyone shows you the same attitude, is crucial to success in your industry.

I'm opening up my Million Dollar Badass mastermind for a short period. It starts in December 2019. Click here to apply!

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why a thick skin as an entrepreneur is an absolute must.
  • How rejection gets you closer to what is meant to be.
  • What makes a welcoming attitude a prelude to more success.
  • Why you may never fully know how many people really appreciate your work.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:


Welcome to The Million Dollar Badass Podcast. I'm your host, Rachel Rodgers, wife, mother to four children, lover of Beyoncé, coffee drinker, and afro wearer, and I just happen to be the CEO of a seven-figure business. I am on a mission to help every woman I meet become a millionaire. If you want to make more money, you are in the right place. Let's get it going.

Hello, friends. Welcome to Office Hours. I’m showing you behind the scenes in my Million Dollar Badass Mastermind. Every week, I get together with a group of ambitious, intelligent, brave women and deliver a motivational pep-talk, sometimes in the form of a kick in the ass, okay. And afterward, I answer specific questions from members who need help on strategy, hiring, marketing, working with clients, getting more clients, all of the things that come with building and scaling a successful business.

So, to get access to that good stuff, make sure you join my email list on You’ll be the first to know when I open enrollment for the next Million Dollar Badass cohort. Until then, grab some tea and get ready to take notes. It’s Office Hours.

I thought I would share a little story with you guys to begin. And I think it’s really relevant for us all, as entrepreneurs, to just keep this kind of thing in mind because I think we all experience this. So, my speaking gig went really well. I reworked my whole talk. It’s called We Should All Be Millionaires, so the same topic as my book.

And I reworked it because it did it at Craft and Commerce and then I did it at BeGolden, which is the conference that I went to in Indiana. And I felt like something was off. Like, I felt like I wasn’t saying exactly what I wanted to say.

And so I hired a speaking coach, Michelle Barry Franco, if anybody’s curious. She’s an amazing coach. She coached my friend Susan Hyatt for her TEDX Talk and so I figured I would hire her as well. Robert also has had interactions with her and he thinks she’s amazing, and he’s a performer, right? Like, he’s been a performer his whole life.

So I took his recommendation and hired her and it was amazing. I actually flew to DC to work with her for a half-day. And basically, working with her was just like me telling stories for like half a day. And then we sort of shaped those stories into the talk, you know, and kind of like the principles of what I believe and then some of the stories to support it.

And just a lot more story, which, like – okay to tip number one is, include a lot more story in your marketing and in the content that you’re sharing because it’s much more valuable to show people rather than just tell them, and story is one of the ways, and one of the best ways, honestly, to tell people something without telling them.

You share a story and then you allow people to take from it what they will, and I think the transformation is much more likely to happen that way than if you just give people a bunch of principles. And so that’s what we worked on.

So we reworked this whole talk. I practiced it a million times and I was, like, really worried about it. Anyway, so I get to the event. It was in St Louis, Missouri, my first time there. I was at the Ritz Carlton, which was lovely, and even more lovely that the conference was covering it, so I didn’t have to pay for my room, which was nice, because as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, there’s no corporate perks, you just pay for everything yourself.

So that was really nice, and then there was a dinner the first night. And the first night, I got to talking with the CMO of The Riveter. I don’t know if all of you are familiar with them, but they’re a coworking space, really for everyone, but created by women. And they have a conference that they’re putting on and they’re just becoming like a larger brand. But they’re amazing.

And so I got to speak with their chief marketing officer, who I loved immediately and totally hit it off with her. And then I also sat next to the founder of She Should Run, and had a great conversation and basically gave her a bunch of free business coaching.  And it was so fun.

And we were sharing resources and the Riveter asked me to write for them and Erin and I – I shared a name with her that I thought would be really valuable for her. And it’s like, this is the magic of being in a community with other amazing women is, like, that’s what you do. You share resources. You share ideas. You validate each other’s ideas and see opportunity for crosspollination and co-creating, which is all really magical.

So that dinner, we were all kind of like, I’m just going to go for a few minutes and see. But then the people were so amazing and it was such a fun thing that I was like there until 10:30 at night.

And then the next morning, I woke up and I felt like I needed one more story for my talk. And so I contacted this entrepreneur that I know of. Like, we have mutual friends, but I don’t really know her well. But we are friends on Facebook and I’ve seen some of the stuff that she’s created, like content she’s created and blog posts and things like that.

And I remembered a blog post in which she shares her story about having moved away from her husband and child when her child was pretty young for a temporary period in order to, like, make more money for the family. And I just thought that that so highlighted the point that I was trying to make with We Should All Be Millionaires, and that sometimes, as women, we need to be able to make those kinds of moves.

And men do shit like that all the time and no one bats an eye, but for women, we have such a hard time with those kinds of things. And not that we all want to leave our children, right? It’s not that. It’s just that sometimes that’s necessary and you’re not a leper or a bad person if you make that decision for your family.

So anyway, I was like, I know I saw a blog post about it but I couldn’t find the blog post, so I just contacted her and said, “Hey, we don’t know each other that well, we’re mutual friends.  I’m actually at this amazing conference.” I told her about the kinds of women who are in the audience. And I was telling her that, “I’m looking for a story on one of these last points, and I thought your story that you shared in your blog post would be so valuable and I was wondering if you would point me to it.”

So, I thought it was a pretty nice email, right? Like, we do similar work but from, like, a different angle. So here’s the response that I got, you guys. Her response was, “I’d rather tell this story myself. I want my story shared from my own perspective.  I don’t want anybody else telling my story for me.”

And I was like, okay, cool. And so I went to respond and I was like, no problem, I can find another story. I thought it was odd because, to me, I know – like, I can tell what the size of her business is, I can see who she’s marketing her programs to. Like, to me, being featured in this talk, at this pretty high-profile event was an opportunity that I was extending to her, and she didn’t want it.

Cool, like I wasn’t really offended by that. I was like, that seems a little weird but whatever, you know, okay, I get it. Maybe she feels insecure about this story. I don’t know.

So anyway, but then I go to respond and say, like, okay, no problem, I won’t share it, never mind then, and move on with my day, and it won’t go through. And I realized, she blocked me. So I had presented this opportunity to this woman and she blocked me, which I just thought was really fascinating; a really interesting way to respond.

And so, I was like, okay that’s real strange. Like, she’s on my list, she’s following me on Instagram, like, she’s obviously interested in my work. We have mutual friends. It’s weird to block me in response to that. I guess she was blocking me because she didn’t want me find her story and go share it anyway, which I wouldn’t have done.

But anyway, okay, cool, just put a pin in that. So I go about my day, keep prepping, plug in other stories, like from clients instead, and then I go and give my talk, it’s amazing, you know, great response, it felt really good. I felt really prepared; much more prepared. And the key really was to practice, practice, practice over and over again to the point that it’s, like, annoying. Because then, you get up there and you just smash it.

So I did that and then afterwards, I was talking to some of the other speakers who were there and just connecting with them. I mean, it was very diverse this conference, probably 50% of the attendees and speakers were black women or women of color. So I was delighted by that. And I just connected with all of these incredible women and lots of black-girl-magic happening, you know, in like every room. There’s no panel where it’s all white, right? Like it’s a diverse panel in every room, which is really not something you see a lot.

It’s called She Leads and it’s put on by Washington University in Saint Louis. So anyway, Britney Packnett and Jill Biden were the keynote speakers that were sort of the front and back end of the conference.

Anyway, so, I get rejected by this entrepreneur that I’m trying to connect with and just, like, offer an opportunity. And obviously, you know, I wanted to share this story, so that was valuable for my talk, but it was also valuable for her, right, because it was exactly the kind of people in the room who would hire her.

So I was like, this is so strange, the response to that. But then anyway, I go give my talk. I connect with these women. After the event, they’re like, “You’re not trying to slide off are you?” They’re like, come hang out with us. And so we all wound up at the Ritz Carlton bar and we’re dancing and we’re making requests and we all did – what was it? Oh my gosh, that dance. I can’t remember which one it was… The Wobble.

We all forgot The Wobble and all lost our black cards. It was so embarrassing. We must have drank so much that we could not get right on that dance floor. But anyway, we had the best time. We joked. We laughed. Everybody was like exchanging numbers and, like, it was such a community.

And I just wanted to share with you the dichotomy of the two, just connecting with an entrepreneur and just getting rejected, for whatever reason. I have zero explanation why. Maybe she thought I was in competition with her or I was trying to take something from her. Who knows why this woman blocked me versus the entrepreneurs who were, like, come sit with us.

And that is the world of being an entrepreneur, like, there are going to be people who disagree with you. There are going to be people who reject you that you feel is unfair, right? You’re going to be judged constantly for what you put out. And when you choose to be a leader and when you choose to create content and put it out into the world, you are basically saying that that’s okay.

You’re basically approving the world commenting on what you’ve put out into the world. And so you need to have a thick skin and you need to just get used to it. And also, don’t be afraid of it. Don’t not put your content out, don’t not put your big ideas out into the world because you’re afraid of what people are going to say or you’re afraid of getting rejected.

Getting rejected, this is part of this journey and it’s going to happen often. So get comfortable with it and don’t allow yourself to fall apart every time it happens because you lose momentum that way. When it happens, just be like, “Okay, that was weird.”  Or even like, “That kind of sucked.” OR even, “That kind of hurt my feelings.” And then just move on.

Because for every person who blocks you or rejects you, there’s a whole squad of amazing women who are like, “Hey, come sit with us,” who are like, “Hey, come hang with us, come dance with us, come be a part of our world.”

And I just find it interesting too that the women who are like, “Hey, come hang with us,” all of these women are really high profile, very successful, have written for all of these incredible media outlets, like, these are really high-level badass women who are like, “Come, be a part of our world.”

And it was an entrepreneur who, you know, I’m sure she has a growing business, but I know she’s not running a seven-figure business, for example, right? And I’m sure she has some success. But like, that being protective and being like, “Oh I don’t want people to know my story or share my story,” or, “Oh, I don’t want to connect with other people because it’s potentially competition,” or who knows what the reasons were that she decided to cut off any communication that we would have.

But it just goes to show, that attitude of openness and welcoming is something that is a prelude to more success and it’s a part of being successful. And this attitude of being closed off and being protective and thinking everybody is coming to get you and harm you and do something to you is actually going to keep you smaller.

And I haven’t even extracted all the lessons from that experience, but it was just so strange to be experiencing both of those things at the same time. Yes, I agree, your people are going to find you and you’ve just got to show up and be your authentic self. And sometimes, people are going to throw eggs at you, literally.

And it doesn’t necessarily feel good, but you just have to remember, this is all an opportunity to stay grounded in who you are and to just show up as who you are even more. And this particular entrepreneur, who basically blocked me on Facebook, also happens to be somebody who, a big part of her brand is that she’s a Christian entrepreneur.

And so I just found that really interesting as well. And I’m like, I wonder if that had something to do with why she rejected me. I’m not sure. But what was interesting for me is that I felt immediately – that’s one of the reasons why I posted on Instagram that picture of me in my shirt that says, like, pro-trans, pro-queer, pro-brown, pro-black, pro-hoe, pro-everything because that’s who I am.

And I’m like, you know what, let me make it unequivocally clear for people who are around me and want to be in my world, this is what I stand for and if you don’t like it then feel free to go away, you know. So I think, when those moments happen, stand more in your power and just be more of who you are and just put yourself out there even more and just know that there are communities of amazing people who are here to, like, share your message and promote you and love on you and who love your work and who are watching what you are doing.

And they may not be saying it. Like, I was just on a podcast earlier today with Claire Pelletreau, The Get Paid Podcast. And she was talking about how she’s binged every episode of MDB, my podcast, and talked about how she’s been watching me for years and learning from me and stuff.

I didn’t necessarily know that. She didn’t tell me that before. So just remember that right now, there are all these people in your world that are following you, that are watching you, that are loving what you’re doing and that are learning from you and they’re not saying a damn thing.

They may not be sending you a testimonial. They may not be sending you an email. They may not be sending you love every day.  And it’s always the people who have negative things to say that we notice the most and we pay attention to them, and almost pay attention the negative people and kind of ignore the people who are all loving you and loving your stuff and super positive, right?

So I think we just have to make sure that we balance that and not allow the people who don’t love your stuff, they’re not bad people. There’s nothing wrong with them. But for whatever reason, they just don’t like your shit. It’s all good, you know.

So anyway, I hope this helps you to handle the criticism that happens, that comes your way. It’s how I process criticism that comes from within my community, outside of my community. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes my husband will criticize me and I’m like, deflect, block, not feeling it, you know?

So just remember that and continue to build that thick skin and continue to be confident in who you are and what you provide and who you know yourself to be, because I think that is the most important part of being an entrepreneur. It’s the stuff that keeps you showing up every day and taking risks, even when you get your ass kicked, okay?

So anyway, I hope that’s helpful for you guys. I hope it inspires you and it is useful to you.

Alright, guys, that’s all I can share with you today. The Q&A section is where I share my top strategies and help my clients work through their challenges. That part of Office Hours is exclusive to members of my Million Dollar Badass Mastermind.

Before you go, I have a question for you. Are you ready for revolution? I’m ready to create a world where women can have the freedom to live happy balanced lives, and the only way to that freedom, wealth, unapologetic economic power, okay. Having money is awesome, but being able to live on your own terms is priceless.

I know you’re ready to play by your own rules. You’re ready to scale your business to seven figures and really build serious wealth. I am now opening enrollment for my Million Badass Mastermind for a limited time. Join now and you will learn the exact strategies I use to scale my business to seven figures and to help tons of women entrepreneurs scale their businesses as well.

You also get access to a team of badass expert coaches and amazing community support. The next cohort begins December 3rd. If you’re ready to make bank, create freedom, and have a real impact, there has never been a better time to join the Million Dollar Badass Mastermind. Go now to I will see you there.

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